Coming to the realization that I have no real experience writing anything creative is difficult. I’ve written and performed slam poems, sure. But those are so stylized that they are formulaic. Slam writing felt more like fitting my thoughts into a preexisting structure than it did creating. However, if I’m being kind to myself, and I rarely am, we’ll say I have 3 years of creative writing experience. That’s not much. That’s entry level.
This morning I tried writing prompts, but the only thing they prompt for me is anxiety and self-doubt. Rather than continuing that torture, I figured it best to just write down my thoughts. More like a diary entry. No imagination involved. No creativity necessary. Thoughts on a page. And that’s better than nothing.
I even attempted a poem only to conclude that definitely wasn’t happening. As mentioned before, most of my poetry writing experience comes in the form of slams. I was pretty good at those. Won a few matches. Had a lot of fun, for sure. There was some poetry writing when I lived in Houston. And let’s just make the phrase when I “lived in Houston” code for doing drugs. Not the almost legal kind either. The most definitely illegal kind. When I lived in Houston I wrote a lot. I haven’t gone back and read any of those poems in a long time, but I recall thinking they were genius. When you “live in Houston”, you think everything you do is brilliant. That’s the nature of “living in Houston.” Anyhow, those poems were angst-y, young, raw and convoluted. But probably they were good. Poems, though, are like the birds of the writing world. They are beautiful to see. They make lovely or interesting sounds. And they can soar. But trying to catch one is a bitch.
And speaking of bitches, I would say doing what I’m doing now – writing out my thoughts – journaling — that’s the dog of the writing world. It’s everyone’s companion. Everyone can journal. Some journals are better than others. Some journals will bite you in the ass. But the journal is essentially man’s best friend. That’s why it’s difficult for me to even count this as writing practice. It serves a purpose, yes. Clearing my head, maybe. Making mental space for other ideas, probably.
The word Practice has a few definitions. The one that applies in this situation is repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency. A relatively broad definition. I am performing the activity of writing, although I don’t know if I’m applying much skill as I do so. Insofar as walking across a parking lot to my car is practicing for a marathon, I suppose this could be practicing.
But this is how it goes in my head. It’s what I need to get past. The mental merit debate about putting down words. Is it good enough? Is it not? Because regardless of merit, it is an activity that I love. That I have loved for a long time. It is a pursuit of, in the grand scheme of things, happiness for me. Regardless of content or quality.
So then writing becomes a battle of self-doubt. Or rather, creation becomes a battle of self-doubt. One that I must fight because the only way to the other side is through. Practice, or “repeated performance of an activity” in spite of insecurity is the way through. It’s the only way to gain experience. I’ve written myself into a state of understanding now. And that is exactly why practice makes perfect.
“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” -William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure